CrowdStrike last week announced Michael Rogers was promoted to vice president of global business development, channel and alliances. His appointment comes after years of driving growth in CrowdStrike’s channel program and a career built working with partners across the security industry.
Rogers takes on this role after a tremendous year for CrowdStrike’s partner ecosystem: For the fiscal year 2022, CrowdStrike reported a record quarter for its partner ecosystem with partner-sourced ending ARR growing 83% year-over-year, and MSSP businesses growing more than 200% year-over-year. Further, there was significant traction with our global network of technology alliances, cloud service providers, global system integrators (GSIs) and telcos.
Here, Rogers talks more about the value CrowdStrike brings to its partner community, the relationship with MSPs and MSSPs, and what he’s looking forward to in his new role.
A: I’m very excited to be taking on this role, having built my career in cybersecurity — next week starts my 25th year in the industry. I’ve had a number of different roles in my career and have engaged with partners from Day One. In that time, I’ve always seen the value and scale that can benefit an organization by collaborating with thousands of salespeople, solution architects and system engineers afforded through working with partners.
We see partnering as a dial, not a switch. By that I mean we’re looking at every facet of a partnership — whether it’s paths to profitability, systems engineer engagement or customer-facing activities that drive new opportunities for us and our partners. We’re always looking for ways to work together to center the customer in everything we do. Having this customer-centric focus creates value and enhances paths to profitability. This comes down to relationships developed from seller to seller, manager to manager, and leader to leader across the organization.
I’m looking forward to continuing to build those relationships and ensure we’re providing the best level of support for our partner community so they can provide the best level of support to their customer base as part of our unified mission of preventing breaches.
A: There are certainly aspects of resell that drive partners’ top- and bottom-line revenues. This fulfills the needs of our customer base and their customer base, specifically their requirements to defend against adversaries.
One aspect partners are looking to drive is new customer acquisition. We’re finding partners are looking for more of a services capability to build around CrowdStrike, and we have multiple opportunities that allow partners to participate in a services-based offering. A good example of this is our engagement license program, which enables certain eligible partners to use the CrowdStrike Falcon® platform at no cost for a finite period of time to service their customers’ needs during their darkest hours, so to speak — the time of a breach.
Partners using Falcon can identify, isolate and remediate a breach, then many of those partners’ customers will become CrowdStrike customers. This provides two paths to profitability right there for a partner: the initial services engagement, as well as the conversion to solution sale.
A: Looking at it holistically, I’d start with coverage. We invest heavily in how we cover our partners in the ecosystem. We have corporate alliance managers focused down-market, serving the corporate market and SMBs, as well as regional alliance managers globally, corporate alliance managers globally, national alliance managers, and resources dedicated to MSSPs, GSIs, telcos, OEM, cloud providers, and technology and CrowdStrike Store partners.
I think that differentiates us greatly in terms of the investment that CrowdStrike has made. It’s always the power of “we,” and the “we” starts with people.
During fiscal year 2020, we launched our Elevate 2.0 partner program, which refined the benefits and investments we’ll make in the partner community. The Elevate program provides multiple avenues for partners to drive high-margin opportunities. Partners driving the highest level of margin are from services around the CrowdStrike offering, whether it’s incident response through our Engagement License Program, or MSSPs powered by CrowdStrike that combine our capabilities with their unique offerings to drive positive outcomes with our mutual customers.
This year we’re investing in resources that will continue to support enablement and increase coverage of our existing offerings. We’re also heavily investing in our solutions architects team so the trusted advisors to our partners’ customers will have more resources to help them.
A: I think the key is to overcommunicate with partners, and that happens to varying degrees. In its simplest form, we do a monthly partner newsletter and also partner alerts for certain upcoming product releases. We also hold a monthly webinar series, many of which have had over 1,000 registrations, and that is directly focused on our partner base.
The critical element is strong communication through our partner organizations. That extends to regional alliance managers, national alliance managers, GSI directors — across the full spectrum. We also want solutions architects to be overcommunicating, as well as sales — bringing in our regional sales managers with our solutions architects, and our alliance managers and their partner peers, to ensure they’re looking at a partner’s customer base and communicating with those customers. And most importantly, through our alliance organization we are facilitating a high degree of peer-to-peer sales engagement both at the individual contributor level all the way up to senior management.